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Ten Types of Residential Houses Chinese People Live In

Welcome to China in 2008

Welcome to China | by {link:http://www.flickr.com/photos/scenery/2133182079/}Luo Shaoyang{/link}

This post concludes the series of “Chinese Residential Houses” (10 individual posts total.)

Spanning over a vast territory of 9.6 million square kilometers, carrying 1.3 billion people of 56 ancient ethnic groups, China has weaved a series of colorful pictures of different Chinese residential houses: some live in bamboo lofts, some set home above water, some pack their houses on horseback, some enjoy the generous gift of Mother Nature in Yaodong caves…

Here I listed ten types of Chinese residential houses I’ve posted individually. You will get an extensive understanding about what types of houses Chinese people live in.

For further reading about Chinese architecture, I recommend these two books listed right by Liang Ssu-Cheng and Fu Xinian, respectively.

Please click the title link or the thumb pic for full article. Enjoy~


Ayiwang Uyghur Houses in Xinjiang

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China is a vast territory inhiabitated by several ethnic groups. Xinjiang has a continental climate, “the farthest region to the ocean”, the temperature changes dramaticaly between day and night, known as “fur coat in the morning, yarn at noon; have watermelon close to the stove at night.” In addition, 7 of 13 resident ethnic groups in Xinjiang are Muslims. So the architecture here is deeply influenced by Islamic culture and has its unique regional and ethnic characteristics.


Bamboo House: Tropical Loft in the Rainforests

A great poet in Song dynasty ever said: I’d rather to eat without meat, but not to live without bamboo. From this point of view, the Dai ethnic people living in Xishuang-Banna (China’s rainforest area in Yunnan Province) must be the happiest people in the world. They not only live in “bamboo” houses, but also eat bamboo rice, drink bamboo wine. Even the gods should be jealousy about their lives.


DiaoJiaoLou – Stilted Building in Southwestern China

Diaojiaolou (literally means hanging attic) is a residential house with a dense architectural flavor of the ethnic minority (Miao, Zhuang, Buyi, Dong, Shui, Tujia Ethnics) in the southwestern provinces (Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan, Guizhou, Hubei, Sichuan provinces). The wooden building is built close to the mountain or above the water (creek or river) with an extended floor space. These houses are usually built on slopes with only supporting wood pillars and no foundation and are 100% made of wood without iron.


Jiang Nan Residential Houses: the Spirit of Water

One major geographic characterisitic that distinguished Jiang Nan from Northern China is its abundance in water resources. Plenty precipitates, lakes, rivers, channels, etc. influenced every part of life and culture in Jiang Nan region, including residential houses.

Jiang Nan houses have a unique sense of simplicity: white wall and black tiles, which represents the humbleness of Jiang Nan people.


Mongolian Yurt: “EASY” Portable House of Nomads

On the vast plateau of Mongolian Highland, cold wind from Siberia blows across the Gobi desert and grasslands, while many big white tents are standing in the harsh winter. They are the Mongolian yurts.

Mongolian yurts are a type of portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structures in which the Mongolian nomads (and many other ethnic nomads) live. The advantage of yurt can be summed up as one word: “easy”.


Qiang Village: Mysterious Oriental Castle that Survived 2008 Earthquake

One of the major differences between Chinese architecture and western architecture is the usage of material. Chinese buildings mainly use wood while westerners use stones because of availability of these construction materials. For this reason, Europe has lots of ancient castles preserved through centuries while most Chinese buildings cannot survive the turmoil of hard times.

However, it does not mean that we don’t have good stone buildings in China.


Siheyuan: the Chinese Housing Dream

Owning a house is now symbolized as an essential part of so-called “American Dream”. You might want to ask what the Chinese version of housing dream looks like? The answer is siheyuan (四合院,Si-he-yuan)

Siheyuan is a common style of Han Chinese housing, dated to Zhou Dynasty (1,100 – 256B.C.). It generally composes of enclosed square yard surrounded with houses on four or three sides.


Stone Sheet House: the Silver Buyei Town in the Mountains

Buyei is the second largest (Miao is the 1st) major minority ethnic group in Guizhou province, They have a wide distribution in Guizhou province as well as some area of Yunnan and Guangxi. They are mostly concentrated at southern Guizhou. In this area, you can enjoy a very original taste of Buyei experience.

If we consider the Qiang village a defensive castle, the Buyei village is relatively less aggregated. In the mountains of southern Guizhou, it produces very good Shale stone material, a type of sedimentary rock. Buyei people take advantage of this and build stone sheet houses with a very unique style.


Tulou Earth Building – Hakka Houses

In 1960s, when US started to use military satellites to gather intelligent information, they found numerous “nuclear reactors” hidden in the mountains of Fujian Province in southern China. Greatly alarmed, they sent officers to investigate the situation, only to find that these “nuclear reactors” or “missile silos” were in fact harmless earth buildings where the Hakkas had been living for centuries!


Yaodong – Cave Dwellings on Loess Plateau

In the prehistoric era our ancestors live in natural caves, during the long history of civilization, we learned how to build beautiful houses and buildings for us to live in. The designs are really diversified around the world according to people’s need, culture difference, local environment, and availability of material.

In the loess plateau of Shaanxi province in northwestern China, people are still living in caves, not natural caves. People built these cave dwellings – Yaodong.

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  1. September 4th, 2009 at 22:56 | #1

    Fascinating!

    I learned a lot from this post, and I’m glad you included pictures for references. I had never realized there were so many types of houses… I shouldn’t be surprised, China is a huge country.

    I like the ld Beijing style houses, with the courtyard.

  2. September 23rd, 2009 at 18:34 | #2

    Yes. Thanks for this post. The photos are really amazing! Just like many other countries, you can see that the homes were built in a style that suits the environment in each particular location. Given the size of China, I’m not surprised to see a diverse collection of size, style, material used, and functionality.

  3. September 23rd, 2009 at 18:36 | #3

    Yes. Thanks for this post. The photos are really amazing! Just like many other countries, you can see that the homes were built in a style that suits the environment in each particular location. Given the size of China, I’m not surprised to see various size, styles, materials, and functionality.

  4. September 23rd, 2009 at 18:37 | #4

    The photos are really amazing. Just like many other countries, you can see that the homes were built in a style that suits the environment in each particular location. Given the size of China, I’m not surprised to see various size, styles, materials, and functionality.

  5. December 2nd, 2009 at 04:44 | #5

    Thats really interesting. China is one of the places I’d love to go to – the architecture there is so unique.

  6. xtaaxtw
    December 18th, 2009 at 20:04 | #6

    Thank you for sharing, I like siheyuan very much,it is a house with a national culture. Many people live together , it will certainly be very popular place. However,siheyuan is too expensive now, many people can not afford.

  7. Mark
    March 6th, 2010 at 21:46 | #7

    see http://www.pem.org/sites/yinyutang/ for an interesting article about a 200 year old family house dis-assmbled, moved from China to be re-assembled at a museum in Salem, MA.

  8. J Karam
    February 21st, 2011 at 14:16 | #8

    Thank you for this post. My son is adopted from China and has been assigned a report on housing in China among other things. We didn’t know the first thing except the sophisticated buildings we saw on our trip.Now, we are already better informed.

  9. sunshinexueyao
    May 23rd, 2011 at 09:39 | #9

    I am a girl from china,china is a really beautiful country with a profound culture.But nowadays more and more peple live in citys,and the tranditional
    achitecture is disappearing day by day which makes me a little bit sad.Luckily,
    more and more people had recognised it and much effictive measures have been taken to protect them.

  10. sunshinexueyao
    May 23rd, 2011 at 09:39 | #10

    I am a girl from China,China is a really beautiful country with a profound culture.But nowadays more and more peple live in citys,and the tranditional
    achitecture is disappearing day by day which makes me a little bit sad.Luckily,
    more and more people had recognised it and much effictive measures have been taken to protect them.welcome to China.

  11. October 22nd, 2011 at 01:07 | #11

    i like type 4 Residential Houses with Plenty precipitates, lakes, rivers, channels, etc.

  12. purple bunny11
    November 11th, 2012 at 15:47 | #12

    Thank You!! You helped me with my history assignment so much!!;)

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